2011-05-06 / Columnists

Historical Viewsof the Rockaways

The W.T. Grant Department Store – Far Rockaway, N.Y. – 1930 to 1948 plus
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

In 1930 the W.T. Grant company department store opened on Central Avenue in Far Rockaway. The store featured items which cost 25 cents, 50 cents, and $1.00. The Grant store was on the west side of Central Avenue near Cornaga Avenue (Woolworth’s five and dime store was on the same side, but close to Mott Avenue.) Shown today in historical views is a photo of the opening of Grant’s in 1930 at 10-19 and later 15 Central Avenue.

The store did very well in Far Rockaway over the years, and was expanded in 1948, being touted as four stores in one! ... a variety store, a dry goods store, a fashion store, and a home-furnishing/ hardware store. The second view today shows Grant’s frontage on Central Avenue in 1948, when the store started a credit department, a personal manager for employee relations to hire and hold onto capable salespeople, and two big floors; known as the main floor and the downstairs floor. Grant’s started out with a dozen employees and 18,000-square-feet of space. Enlargements, small ones, took place in 1941 and 1944, but this most recent one increased the retail space to 40,000- square-feet, and a salesgirl and display of merchandise for sale. There was a small exit to Beach 21 Street.

Grant’s department store closed its doors in the late 1960s, as did many of the other once grand stores on Central Avenue, and other Far Rockaway streets and avenues, as the section went into decline and limbo at the time. Why? Well that is a rather long story that can be summed up as welfare, urban renewal, slums, Robert Moses, blockbusting, the poorest planning ever, and greed …but not necessarily in that order!

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